I journaled this a few months ago on the plane flight home from visiting friends on the east coast. I've looked back on it a few times since then, and I thought it was worth putting in digital form so that as I retire this notebook (mostly full of equations), I can return and reflect as necessary:
I think one of the hard things about deciding when to have a child, as with most major decisions, is that you can't rationalize or reason it out. We train ourselves to make lists, weigh pros and cons, and as a scientist I favor the neat logic of flow charts and the unequivocal elegance of equations. But despite all the lists and pros and cons, you can't tame the desire to bring a life into the world, propagate the species, and quell the seemingly inexorable ticking of your biological clock. And babies are contagious; my mom was right on that one. They're so cute and helpless and smart and bright-eyed and innocent and full of potential. And watching my friends have them - and the obvious joy and wisdom that motherhood brings them - makes me jealous and want to keep up with the Joneses. And knowing that I am at least partially desirous of a baby because I want to keep up with my friends doesn't make me a crave a baby any less.
And it's not just babies that I want, it's children, too. I want to take them to the playground, stomp in mud puddles, and post artwork on the fridge. You can even sign me up for the sleepless nights when the kid has a fever and is throwing up. I can handle it. Someday I'll even learn to change a diaper.
It's funny because even in college, I never really gave much thought to having kids. I figured I'd aquire a husband along the way, but kids, I didn't really have a plan. And now I have a husband and a house and a job (sort of) and a kid seems like the next logical step. But just as I am finally learning to not rush through school, maybe i shouldn't rush to the next step in life.
And not because of any imperfections in our marriage, because I know that every marriage has them, but because I should slow down and savor this stage in my life. And there's so much I want to do right now: be more athletic and outdoorsy, learn to garden and do a few crafts; enjoy my friendships (including with my husband); and maximize my career opportunities. And not that having a baby will stop me from doing these things, but a baby will sure make them much easier not to do.
While there is no easy, "perfect" time to have a baby given my chosen profession; it doesn't mean that it can't be done or that I even have to follow the traditional career structure.
So I guess I'm back to "when it happens, it happens, and it will be fine." And in the meantime, I vow to enjoy life, play with babies when I feel the desire, and not to be constantly rushing after the next big thing.
But that's today. Tomorrow I might be someplace else entirely.